Freedom’s Just Another Word

Reposted from The Dreaming Tree: The Story of Audrey Moore

The mid morning sun streamed through the window of The Dreaming Tree used bookshop. Outside the still locked door a lanky auburn haired man politely knocked with a box of books balanced between him and the edge of the door frame. Audrey Moore was upstairs in her kitchen in the apartment above the shop making coffee and listening to Janis Joplin, oblivious to the knocking below. She was still in her pajamas and bare feet spinning around as before setting the cup on the counter to pour. She sang aloud enthusiastically and slightly off key.

“Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah….. Bobby McGee…yeah….”

Startling, a voice that was neither her own nor the late goddess of rock shouted up towards the open window.

“Hello? Are you open today” The voice was male and slightly hoarse.

Audrey gulped and looked at the microwave clock display. Technically her shop was open at 11:00 am according to the sign on the door.  However, from Audrey’s perspective 11:23 was still in the earlier portion of the hour and therefore not entirely unreasonable. She crept to the window and peered out. A rusted old farm truck was on the street in front of the shop and its driver was turning resignedly to replace a box back into the open back.

Audrey called down “Sorry I’ll be right there!” He turned back towards the shop after a brief nod up to her location.

She frowned and then took a moment to fix her coffee with a splash of soy cream and a confectioner’s dose of sugar in the raw before dashing to the bedroom and bathroom to brush her teeth and jump into proper clothing.

Audrey met the man at the door and recognized him from the larger community. He was a farmer named Darwin Cooper who lived somewhere past the Whitfield place as far as she recalled. They had never spoken one on one but she remembered her father speaking to him in greeting and casual conversation with her in tow as a teenager from the time he was a young man.

“Mr. Cooper, my apologies.” She said with a hint of embarrassment as she quickly slid the key in the lock. “The time got away on me.”

Darwin smiled good naturedly and said softly “Janis’ll do that to a person.”

Audrey felt her face go a bit warm and cleared her throat as she held the door to let him go in with his book box.

She stepped behind the till and he set the box on the counter and pulled open the flaps.

“I dunno if you’ll want all of these. I just got sick of dusting them off every so often. There’s a set of encyclopaedias in the bottom my daughter says are worthless now that everyone uses the google.”

Audrey giggled as she dug through “Yes the google is a handy thing.”

She looked up to share the joke and was met with an unreadable expression on Darwin’s face.

Audrey smiled nervously and kept digging through, making piles of the books of the same category and then quickly jotting down prices to purchase. Darwin began roaming the store as she started to write.

When she looked up again he was holding a copy of The Life of Pi.

“Oh that’s quite good but you may have read it.” Audrey stated.

Darwin shook his head “I don’t read a lot of novels. Sounds peculiar.”

Audrey beamed “It’s wonderfully so! I think you should give it a chance.”

He chuckled and brought the book to the counter “Alright, why not?”

Audrey met him at the till with her list and a calculator. She tallied what she would offer for what he sold her and subtracted the novel.

“Twelve fifty Mr. Cooper.”

Darwin shook his head at her, his grey blue eyes twinkling with the hint of a smile that didn’t reach his lips “Please call me Darwin. My father was Mr. Cooper.”

Audrey smiled at him, giving him a longer look this time “I’m Audrey.”

Darwin nodded as the smile found its way down to his mouth “I remembered that.”

He was tall but not too tall, thankfully not remotely balding and the eyes she could just dive into if he let her. Darwin was dressed in a flannel red check shirt and jeans, both on the baggy side but the sleeves were rolled up and his forearms displayed a wiry but muscular enough build. She let her eyes drop to his hands and noticed the wedding ring. She sighed and chuckled to herself at the moment and took Darwin’s twenty to make change. It dawned on her that she probably wasn’t ready to be looking seriously so all of this was just as well.

“Thank you Darwin and have a good day.” She said in polite customer service – ese.

He put the novel under his arm and gave her a small wave “You too Audrey.”

The door creaked shut as Darwin left and Audrey picked up a pile of the encyclopaedias to start pricing. She snorted a bit as she laughed and muttered “The google.”

At the end of the work day she met her Aunt Sheila for a beer and relayed the story. Her aunt laughed at her and patted her on the hand.

“You just focus on keeping The Dreaming Tree back on it’s feet right now Sweetie. Opening the shop on time would help.”

Audrey shrank down a bit “I know. I’ll get an alarm clock. It’s funny this plan is part of my freedom from my old life but as the song says “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” She closed her eyes for a moment and felt Sheila give her hand a little squeeze.

 

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